Whatever Floats Your Boat: Top Dock Spots from North Carolina to Florida

by Kristy Tolley

By Vanessa Infanzon

Boat owners are taking to the water to visit destinations within several hours or days from their hometown. Marinas in towns up and down the southeast coast make day and overnight docking simple for visitors. Once you dock, the land lubbers in your crew can head to the beach, museums and other nearby activities.

Renew your boat insurance with AAA, perform safety checks on your vessel and plan your course to one or more of these fine cities from North Carolina to Florida:

Edenton, NC

The town of Edenton welcomes boaters with a complimentary boat slip rental for the first two nights of the stay. Boaters can expect full electrical hookups and access to restroom and shower facilities in Harbor Park. Find more information here: VisitEdenton.com/Boatslips.

What’s on land: Relax in this small town on Edenton Bay with an historical trolley or walking tour. Visit the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center and 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse. Book a room at one of the bed and breakfast inns in town. Reserve a table at Edenton Bay Oyster Bar or The Table At Inner Banks Inn. Enjoy wine and beer at the Edenton Bay Trading Company. Stay for Vinyl Night on Saturday nights for some rip-roaring fun!

Swansboro, NC

Church Street Dock, Swansboro, NC

Stop in Swansboro for small town charm on the Intracoastal Waterway. Boaters can find overnight dockage at Casper’s Marina with 30 and 50 amp electricity, restrooms and showers. Church St. Town Dock provides free day-docking or reserve an overnight stay with limited restroom access: $1.50 per foot minimum 26-feet and electric is extra.

What’s on land: Stroll the streets and shop at Candy Edventures, Beaufort Olive Oil Company and Salt Marsh Cottage. Explore Hammocks Beach State Park on Bear Island, accessed by a public ferry in-season. Take a Lyft or Uber to Jacksonville’s Lejeune Memorial Gardens, a public park and home to the second largest Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the U.S.

Bald Head Island, NC

Rent a slip at Bald Head Island Marina, two miles off the coast of Southport, North Carolina, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The dock fee, $2 per foot per night with a 24-foot minimum, includes a bathhouse with restrooms, showers and laundry facilities, wireless internet and an ice-free basin with lighted entrance channel. Electric hookups are extra. Call the marina to make a reservation, 910-457-7380.

What’s on land: Visit Old Baldy Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum of History. Stay near the marina for food and drink: Sandpiper Coffee & Ice Cream, Jules’s Salty Grub and Island Hub and Will O’ the Wisp. Explore the island by kayak or paddleboard with The Sail Shop. Rent a bike through Riverside Adventure Co.

Beaufort, SC

Dock at Safe Harbor Beaufort, a network of marinas, for one or more nights at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in the heart of downtown Beaufort. Docking costs run $2.25 per foot per night and include shower and bathroom facilities, one parking pass and water. Electricity is an extra cost per night. To stay, boaters must register with Dockwa.com to book a slip or call the marina directly at 843-524-4422.

Sunset aerial view of Beaufort Marina

Beaufort Marina

What’s on land: Boaters walk from docks directly to the city’s main greenspace lined with restaurants and shops. Chapman’s Grocer carries essential supplies and specialty items like curated wines and craft beer, cheeses, fresh bread and gourmet foods. Visit Beaufort Visitor Center at the Arsenal for tour and attraction information. Learn about Beaufort’s historical places from a horse-drawn carriage: Tours leave from the marina parking lot. Be on the lookout for the new Harriet Tubman Monument, next to the 156-year-old Tabernacle Baptist Church. It will be a 14-foot bronze and granite sculpture by American sculptor, Ed Dwight.

St. Augustine, FL

Aerial view of historic St. Augustine, Florida

Choose from a variety of marinas in the St. Augustine area: St. Augustine Municipal Marina, Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor and Conch House Marina Resort welcome small leisure boats to large cruising vessels. River’s Edge Marina, English Landing Marina, and Cat’s Paw Marina on the San Sebastian River take leisure vessels.

What’s on land: Explore the oldest city in the U.S. with a trolley or walking tour. Browse through the Lightner Museum with its glass, paintings and sculptures in the former four-story Alcazar Hotel. See if you can find the old indoor pool. At one time, it was the largest in the world. Head to St. Augustine’s Distilling Co. for a tour and a taste of bourbon, gin, rum and vodka. Golf enthusiasts can coordinate a visit with the THE PLAYERS Championship at Sawgrass each spring.

New Smyrna Beach, FL

Waterview of Outriggers restaurant

New Smyrna Marina

Experience swanky docking at New Smyrna Marina. Amenities include an upscale fish cleaning station, bathhouse with shower facilities and a heated swimming pool and jacuzzi. Overnight dockage is limited to a two-night maximum stay: $2 per foot and 30-foot minimum. Diesel and Rec-90 (non-ethanol gas) fuel are available for sale. An extra charge is billed for 30, 50 or 100 amp hookups.

What’s on land: Eat at Outriggers, the next door tiki bar with indoor and outdoor seating. A 25-minute walk or quick Lyft or Uber drive to Canal Street or Flagler Avenue brings visitors to bars, shops and restaurants.

Photography: Shawn Hill Photography, Onslow County Tourism and New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau

You may also like

Leave a Comment